The Keystone of God’s Promises for the Earth
An eTPL Position Paper, # 33
Harold E. Lafferty
Ours is the age of reckless, irrational murder of innocents by “innocents.” Every so often a student enters his school with a weapon and senselessly kills or wounds several of his classmates and teachers. The searching for a motive begins in force. The shooter is often called a “loner.” Others have a wide circle of friends. What caused him to turn on his classmates? Past medical history is searched; friends are interviewed; pastors are called to newsrooms to tell of the subject’s past church activities and community service.
Questions abound. But answers are few. Nobody seems to recall that everyone is born under sin, and that all SIN. Perhaps it was due to hatred, or envy – or bullying.
But the word “sin” has not surfaced once that we have heard.
Then the witnesses appear before the TV interviewer, telling of the victims in endearing terms, noting their good traits and charitable works. Almost invariably the witnesses state that the victims are now in heaven, benefitting from God’s grace.
They’re in a “better place,” according to the newscasters and the witnesses. And we have never heard of anyone having been assigned to “hell.” It’s amazing! Every victim who ever died has gone to heaven! At least, that is the judgment of his or her companions.
It is evidence of their pathetic, regretful, but abysmal ignorance of God’s real truth!
These folk are victims of the most egregious fraud – of deception of the worst sort – and that by the trusted leaders of their churches; they are the fleeced sheep who have swallowed the lies and dishonesty their leaders have purveyed to their flocks.
What is the real truth about the destiny of those who die?
It can only be determined by a careful study of GOD’S WORD – by ferreting out HIS promises to the righteous and the wicked – for both go unto one place: as Solomon wrote, in Ecclesiastes 3:20: All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
This simple, uncomplicated formula places all the dead back into the dust of the earth, from whence came we all.
In the Old Testament the grave is called Sheol; in the New it is usually termed Hades.
Both are simply the grave: the place of the dead, the pit.
There is no mystery here. We see the literal fulfillment of this process at every funeral service we attend. It matters not that the words of the ministers are in direct opposition. The process cannot be stayed nor blunted. Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
We have often heard funeral eulogies in which the dearly deceased is claimed to be at that moment beside God’s throne looking down upon this scene, and sorrowing that the mourners are weeping for him or her!
Just two verses earlier than the above, King Solomon defined the destiny of the dead (the dead know not anything) – that destiny of ALL men and women – for ALL fit his description of them: … yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (verse 3)
We humbly submit that this destiny is that of ALL men and women (and children) who die, and that this fact is supported by the Apostle Paul’s commentary upon the entire human race: Romans 3:23 – All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and Romans 5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Men and women may not like the sound of these words of instruction – but they ARE INSTRUCTIVE, breathed by inspiration of the Father Himself, and must not be denied or repudiated.
If any different opinion is gained by certain verses, that drift can usually be attributed to the translators’ bias toward the philosophers of Greece, Rome and Babylon – those whom the intellectuals have considered “authorities” in the matters of life and death. The real authority, however, is God’s Word; hie thee unto it for verifiable knowledge as to His plan!
A Biblical Discussion of the Destiny of Man
Instead, the destiny of the true Believer in God’s Plan for mankind and for the earth is readily available in His immutable word. It is simple and straightforward – and results in far less insult to the sinner than man’s philosophy allows – a feature which emphasizes the mercy of the Almighty, who is not intent on harm and suffering for the sinner – but merely disposition.
That penalty of sin is DEATH – not an everlasting life of pleasure and security in heaven, or of everlasting torture in the “fires of hell.”
But for some – those who have made a Covenant with Christ in not only learning the details of the salvation which He offers, but the pathway to it, including baptism into His name, this is not the end of the story.
The destiny of those whose ways are righteous is to follow a logical, progressive pathway to God’s kingdom on the earth – first descending into the death state, being buried in Sheol (the grave) and dissolving back to the elements of the dust.
In that safe, completely unconscious state, every Believer rests until the resurrection, he or she shall be brought forth from the grave, made again to live, and be gathered, along with the living Believers, and mustered before the Judge of all the earth, the returned Jesus Christ.
At that time of assize, their fitness for the Kingdom is determined by Him, and the righteous on His right hand are awarded life eternal. Those on the left hand are sent forth again into the world with weeping and gnashing of teeth, to live for a short time until they descend again into the dust of the earth for eternity. For them, there is no more hope or expectation.
It is relatively easy and straightforward to ascertain the process of receiving the reward of the righteous; it merely requires some objective scriptural study. We shall proceed with that discussion here: the foregoing has been digression, yes, but very important considerations.
The Provision for Salvation
It begins by reviewing the provision God made in Eden as to “the Seed of the Woman.” Actually it begins even before that with the sentence of death which He pronounced upon the pair because of their sin. Note please, that the sentence upon the man and the woman was DEATH, not life. The latter decision was that of the Serpent – thou shalt not surely die. Genesis 3:4.
But God had said, In the day thou eatest therof (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) thou shalt surely DIE, the intent of which is, thou shalt become a dying creature, or MORTAL.
The serpent’s statement was a lie of the grossest kind – and brought fatal consequences upon Adam and his wife by encouraging their disobedience to God.
But men of every stripe have followed the lie of the serpent rather than the truth of God's statement.
Even their joyous dispatch of nearly every dead person directly to heaven conveniently and irrationally bypasses the judgment of Jesus as to whether the subject is worthy of salvation.
Notice particularly verse 19 of Genesis 3: along with other provisions, God sentenced the pair to death in these fearful words: Genesis 3:19 - In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Those fatal words were God’s final judgment for the moment.
But in order to fulfill His great Plan for the Ages, to which He had already committed, we behold His infinite mercy as then expressed to His creation – His plan for redemption of some of His creation from that universal sentence of death!
In his mercy the Almighty laid out a plan of salvation intended for them and all their posterity; a plan of salvation which He should clarify as time should pass.
But it would require obedience to Him and to His teachings.
We should note additionally, that the remedy was actually given prior to the hurtful sentence; in that feature of it, we can determine that these drastic events did not take the Almighty by surprise – that this Plan was in place even before the creation.
That provision is given in Genesis 3:14 - And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
The certain meaning of this is that the serpent represented sin in the flesh – the propensity of men and women to follow their own lusts, as they had done in partaking of the forbidden fruit of Eden’s Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Their transgression stemmed from the inborn elements of sin which are defined by the Apostle John, in 1John 2:16 - For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
These specific failures were the cause of Eve’s downfall!
The provision of the Seed of the Woman would be the Almighty’s doorway to Salvation. But it would require a long time in man’s estimation for the Plan to develop.
Little or no forward progress seems apparent until after the great Flood of Noah’s time.
It begins in early post-diluvian history, when it pleased the LORD to call one man to His side for humble, obedient service.
At the time when God called Abram, while he yet dwelt in Ur of Chaldea, Abram was given a widely comprehensive set of invitations and promises by God. That entire blessing of the Covenant seems to have been a unilateral one: God promised great blessings, but Abram had no input into the provisions of it.
Also, it was not a mandatory request from the Almighty, i.e., Abram could have ignored it, and not responded.
When he did respond to the invitation, it became known as the Abrahamic Covenant. That was the indication that Abram had gratefully accepted the proffered blessing.
The Covenant may be reduced to its parts by careful consideration. Moses wrote there …
Gen 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
The various clauses of this Great Covenant are as follows: first, God’s invitation to Abram:
· Get thee out of thy country, departing from your kindred and your father’s house
· Go into a foreign land later to be shown to thee
All the remaining portions are promised blessings to him: and by implication to his progeny – or, his Seed.
· You shall be made a great nation
· You shall be blessed by Me (God)
· Your name shall be made great
· You shall be a blessing (to all men)
· God would bless all those who blessed Abram
· God would curse him that cursed Abram – all of them
· In Abram (i.e., in his progeny) would all nations of the earth receive blessing
This invitation to Abram – for such it was, not being mandatory – would be moved forward only by Abram’s responsive faith. That became Abram’s initial test of fealty to God.
The invitation was issued first of all to Abram because in all His creation at that time, God saw that Abram was a malleable, obedient personality with whom God could work, and was potentially a man of great faith in God.
Abram would be a faithful recipient of his blessing, and offered to the Almighty the best human agency (person, or personality) for moving forward the Plan of God in the earth.
It would move forward through the faith of one man, but the entire world would benefit from his faith. We observe how in this sequence of operation, the plan of salvation would extend to ALL men and women of all nations, kindred, tongues and peoples.
It would be His universal Plan of Redemption from the sinful condition that had passed upon all Adam’s progeny when he transgressed God’s sole commandment. No alternative was possible: this was His only plan.
We find in subsequent study of the overall Plan of God, that this Covenant made with Abram is the foundation Stone of that structure.
Embedded within it were several other superb benefits and blessings upon the people who would spring from Abram – later renamed Abraham – and through him to the entire world, i.e., to all who should exhibit the faith that Abraham exhibited.
Abram means “he who crosses over.”
Abraham means “father of the faithful.”
We easily perceive that Abram’s response of “crossing over” the river and leaving the Mesopotamian civilization made him a pioneer of sorts, entering, as he did physically, an hostile and strange land which his fathers knew not.
It was the opening move of his faithful obedience to the Almighty. In doing God’s will, Abram crossed over a boundary from the familiar to the unfamiliar – and he did it by faith.
With passing events exhibiting the continued faithful obedience to God by Abram, He changed Abram’s name to Abraham; he became the father of that entire genus of people in whom faith in God took root, became enlightened by Him, and followed His ways to the best of their ability – a condition that, unfortunately, did not remain in their intentions for the entire history of his descendants.
A merely superficial consideration would reveal that the entire world would benefit ONLY from the outcome of the Covenant to Abraham, for God made a covenant with no other; and its benefits were to be conferred upon a fraction of all of mankind, although available to all men.
We suspect that the early nations recognized this fact and were extremely jealous because God had elected a Chosen People – a select People who should spring forth from a supremely faithful man by divine calling and election.
We believe also that this jealousy and envy has persisted to the present day, manifesting itself in the vicious opposition to Israel that we shall review in some detail below.
Subsequent study reveals the multiple features of The Covenant, filled in by YHVH as the years advanced with Abraham’s descendants – the Royal Line being designated as being exclusively through his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob and his twelve sons (Tribes), particularly the Tribe of Judah.
These dependent parts of the Covenant may be illustrated by a verse-by-verse examination of Genesis, and later writings of God. Such an examination brings forth a brief list of these features as relates to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
These follow, but are not exhaustive. Later blessings completely parallel to these were applied to David, specifically – but not included here.
Land Abraham: Gen 13:15, 17; 15:18; 17:8
Isaac: Gen 26:3
Abram’s Seed Abraham: Gen 13:16; 15:4, 5; 17: 2, 4; 22:16-18; 24:7
Isaac: Gen 26:4; 27:29;
Jacob: Gen 32:12; Gen 35:11,12
Blessing of all nations in him Abraham: Gen 18:18
Blessing for blessing – cursing for cursing Abraham: Gen 12:3;
Isaac: Gen 27:29
Covenant with Abraham Abraham: Gen 17:4-7
God’s New Covenant with Israel Abraham: Gen 17:19-21,
the everlasting covenant
It is easy to extrapolate these vital sub-parts of the Promise to Abraham. Each one serves an integral function in the entire Covenant; the fulfillment of each completes another portion of the entire blessing. And in every way, each part depends upon the others. None may be omitted in the conclusion of Abraham’s great blessing – both upon himself, his People, his Seed (which is Christ: Galatians 3:16), and ultimately the world at large, ONLY through Christ’s work of redemption – a provision that is accessible to ALL men and women of the earth who should accept His offer. He famously said, Come unto Me, ALL ye who labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, in Matthew 11:28.
In this provision we see the merciful and compassionate offer of salvation which was head-lined and seen as prototypical in one ancient life: that life was the life of Abraham, the friend of God, and conveyer of the Plan to future generations of faithful believers in God through his ultimate Seed, which conclusively became Christ Jesus.
In this manner, the Plan of God’s salvation developed only through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the patriarchs of salvation itself.
Men of all ages have discounted the children of Israel as of much account.
But in reality, only through them came the Provider of life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As time progressed, the Saviour was born in Bethlehem – the appointed village of Judea, just as had been foretold by Micah 5;2.
He fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous plan of extermination.
He later returned to Nazareth with Joseph and Mary and grew to manhood in that obscure village in the despised Galilee of the Gentiles.
At age 30, he submitted to the baptism of John, and was attested to be God’s Son by the appearance of a dove alighting upon Him, and a thunderous voice proclaiming, This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.
His turbulent ministry was purposefully rejected by the prominent Jews of His day and He was crucified on a tree. But He came forth from the tomb after three days and nights, and ascended to heaven bodily. At that time He told His disciples Whither I go ye cannot come. Matthew 13:33.
But He had also assured them that in My Father’s house (the coming kingdom, which He would establish at His Second Coming) there are many dwelling places (John 14:3), and that He was going away to prepare a place for you (in that kingdom). But that did not imply for one moment that they should follow Him to heaven – they had already been told that they could not do so – but that He would return to them: I will come again, and receive you unto Myself (so) that where I am (i.e., back upon the earth), there ye may be also (John 14:3).
In this clear instruction, He assured them that the provision for His being again among them was dependent upon His return from heaven to the earth, and that their reward would not be in heaven but upon the earth. It was necessary for Him to ascend to His Father in order to prepare their dwelling places, but He would award these to them upon His return.
From what has happened in the interim, we can easily see that His sojourn at His Father’s right hand would result in the historical development of the conditions on the earth that should make His return not only necessary but expedient and profitable for His followers. In addition, in the interim, He should patiently and progressively called certain ones to His service, and to have begun to prepare each of them for places in His kingdom; as such, they are the "pieces" of the entire puzzle of His kingdom on the earth.
Reference to this clear provision is made by the Prophet Isaiah in two passages: Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11 Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
These provisions show clearly that He brings His reward for His servants with Him to the earth, where they receive it and enjoy it forever!
Now: Can one visualize His Second Coming? How is it to take place?
At His ascension into the heavens, two angels appeared to the wondering disciples, and told them precisely in what manner He should return unto them: Acts 1:10 … two men (angels) stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
But a great hiatus was in store for them.
The coming history of His people would be turbulent and brutal.
Their sorry decision to reject God’s Son resulted in great depreciation for them and their nation. At that time in history, the Jews were destined to have their temple burned, and themselves deported to the slave markets of the world in retribution for their rejection of their Messiah at His first coming. In 70 AD Imperial Rome sent legions of soldiers and uprooted the Jews from their place and dispersed them into all nations for nearly two thousand years.
And Now, the End of the Story
But in these end times, in response to several prophecies foretelling their return, they have come back to their homeland in great numbers. They have lately formed their own nation – Israel – and have maintained themselves quite well against all odds, undoubtedly with the divine assistance of their specially appointed caretaker, Michael the Archangel of Daniel 12:1,2.
Israel now (since 1967) controls the Mount of Olives for the first time in two millennia – the place to which their Messiah is destined to return.
During their end time history as a re-established nation, Israel has suffered extreme danger from its neighbors round about them – persecution, terrorism, threats, vilification, resistance, wars, and insurrection. Nearly every decade they are threatened by hot aggression from their enemies. Their course of survival has not been smooth.
But scripture shows that their Father is mindful of all these threats and ill intentions of their neighbors. A prominent prophecy of the end times proves His attention to His people: speaking to one of their most vehement latter day foes, He tells Edom through the Prophet Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 35:12 And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume. 13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
One of the most prominent features of this sub-set of provisions of God’s Covenant to Abraham is the Blessing-for-Blessing provision and its counterpart, the provision of Cursing-for-Cursing. One writer (Bill Salus) has referred to this provision as God’s Foreign Policy – a label with which we concur.
We can see evidence of its operational effects throughout history.
First, the cursing-for-cursing:
1. Pharaoh was their first persecutor, enslaving the children of Israel and resisting the People leaving Egypt – and was cursed in having the firstborn of all Egypt slain, and in losing his pursuing army to the Red Sea.
2. Amalek resisted Israel during the Exodus, becoming its first external armed enemy – and is cursed for the ages.
3. Balak, king of Moab, hired Baalam to curse Israel – but in the finality, he could but bless them!
4. Balaam finally devised a scheme to harm Israel – then became infamous for the whoredoms he advised.
5. Edom, Moab and Ammon collectively “cursed” Israel – but themselves became accursed and desolate for centuries. Their captivity is prophesied to be “returned” and to be finally destroyed by the returned Messiah/Redeemer of Israel.
6. The Philistines fought Israel savagely for years – but where are the Philistines today?
7. Tyre and Sidon were rivals to Jerusalem, and jealous of her God – and passed into the dustbin of history.
8. Assyria took the Ten Tribes captive – then later disappeared as a people and nation.
9. Babylon destroyed God’s Temple, and took the Two Tribes captive – and was miraculously overthrown by Medo-Persia.
10. Greece oppressed the Maccabees – and was overthrown by Rome.
11. Rome destroyed the Second Temple and sacked Jerusalem – and passed off the scene.
12. The Muslims treated Jews as “dhimmi” (second class citizens) –and has suffered (and shall yet suffer) greatly for their arrogance.
13. The Crusaders sallied forth to “liberate Jerusalem,” killing thousands of Jews on their journeys – and failed miserably after 300 years of violence and death, later suffering disbandment and ignominy.
14. Martin Luther turned on the Jews, cursing them in the name of “religion” – and lives in infamy for his trouble.
15. The Church exhibited extreme vehemence against the Jewish State – still even today maintaining its opposition to Israel’s possession of Jerusalem. It judgment impends.
16. The Holy Inquisition massacred thousands of Jews as infidels – for which the eternal fate of that imperious institution is sealed forever.
17. Spain expelled the Jews – and nearly immediately lost its prominent place among the nations.
18. Portugal did the same – and its smaller empire vanished.
19. The Turks oppressed God’s Holy Land for 400 years – but were overthrown by Great Britain and their empire ruined.
20. Germany conducted the Holocaust – and was beaten to a pulp for its trouble.
21. Great Britain reneged on its promise of creating an homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine – and lost its empire within a short period.
22. The United Nations Organization, although originally creating the State of Israel by legal means, has condemned Israel in fully two thirds of its decisions in the Security Council – and shall be completely demolished by the coming crises.
23. Psalm 83 predicts a resurgence of many of the above – and foretells that they shall be as a chaparral (a desiccated, rolling thing in the desert) carried about by the wind of destruction.
24. The enormous forces of the Gogian host shall come against God’s people – and will be stopped dead in the process, and be buried in a massive grave in Israel without survivors.
25. The entire world shall develop an even more intense hatred for Israel – but all nations shall be dissolved in favor of the Israel of God and the Universal Kingship of Jesus Christ.
26. The real enemy in all these agencies of resistance to God’s Plan is human nature itself, which is described as Satanas (a false accuser, or a liar), and Diabolos (devil, in the context of false accuser or slanderer) – and “his” destiny is to be cast into the metaphorical lake of fire and brimstone from which he shall never emerge.
The Jewish people have been blessed in time past as well – blessing-for-blessing. The examples are admittedly few.
1. The Pharaoh who treated Joseph well was greatly blessed by electing Joseph’s management of the kingdom.
2. Cyrus the Persian decreed the return of the Jews to their homeland and paid for the reconstruction of the Second Temple – for which he was blessed.
3. The United States has stood by Israel since Harry S Truman recognized the State eleven minutes after it was proclaimed – and has been greatly blessed in the intervening years.
4. There may be a few others which have not come to mind.
The clear picture of such passages as Isaiah 63: 1-6 is, at the coming crisis, that NONE of the nations who have supported Israel earlier in its current existence shall stand with Israel and with Messiah in His violent conquest of the nations round about – in this cited case, the Edomites (“Palestinians”) of Bozrah, and by extension, those of Moab and Ammon (Jordan), Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Sinai, Gaza, the Saudis, and Kuwait, along with the Gulf Emirates (?). The vast area stretches from the River Nile to the River Euphrates and from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Persia and the Indian Ocean (that latter boundary being indeterminable before the fact).
We deem this to be Messiah’s first order of business – securing His Land and People.
But other serious challenges follow in close order.
In the Gogian affair, divine intervention is quite decisively the operative power and shall neither invite nor require ANY outside intervention – although the indications surely are there would be none available to Israel if they were needed.
As to Armageddon, which we view as the confrontation of the Kingdom of Christ as it expands its principles and doctrines to the West, primarily, and against the Apostasy in particular (Antichrist in person!), ALL nations shall be in opposition to Him - for the Apostasy is universal in scope.
But the Lamb of God shall prevail; His principle antagonist (Great Babylon) being destined to be destroyed as thoroughly as if it were a millstone cast into the sea.
Psalm 2 seems to address the attitude of “the rest of the world” – all purely pagan even in open admission – which shall resist His hegemony perhaps as thoroughly as did Esau, Gog, and Rome.
The ancient Covenant which the Almighty made with Abraham stands firmly and prominently in these end times. It has never been abrogated or changed in one detail, and is as certain of fruition today as it was in 2,000 BC at its first statement! Nations may rage and resist His rule, and refuse His blessing … but in the finality, the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea … and all nations shall call Him blessed. <HEL 4N; rev., 6P> ~5100 words. An eTPL Position Paper, # 33
Consisting of Christ and His Saints
An eTPL Position Paper #32
When Christ returns to the earth to save His people Israel from their enemies round about (cf., Zechariah 9:11-17; 10:5-12) what can we determine about the details of His appearance? Will He return all alone to do this work personally, as a single entity? Or shall He be accompanied by a great host of companions, the redeemed Saints?
Furthermore, shall not Israel itself, redeemed by Him as it shall be being, not also join in heartily and effectively with the One Man? The above cited passages prove this literally to be so.
Some have expressed the opinion that that the great company which appears on the earth with Christ at the Second Advent are to be identified as the angels of heaven. But we believe the scriptures are definitive in their identification of this great company as being the then immortalized Saints - the Bride of Christ of Revelation 19.
One such reference is Zechariah 9:11, which seems to nominate the resurrected Saints, now made immortal, only lately liberated thorough the blood of His covenant, from the bonds of death. We believe these words to refer to them because the everlasting covenant which He shall make with Israel at that point has not been entered into by Him. The passage seems straightforward enough: As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. Several other passages of scripture bear on this great event, and reveal details of it that we may have overlooked, or not fully processed.
One such record is the entirety of the ninth of Zechariah - undoubtedly a detailed account of the Second Advent.
Note the highlighted terms …
Zechariah 9:1 The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.
Zec 9:2 And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.
Zec 9:3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.
Zec 9:4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.
Zec 9:5 Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
Zec 9:6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
Zec 9:7 And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.
Zec 9:8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.
Zec 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Zec 9:10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
Zec 9:11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
Zec 9:12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
Zec 9:13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
Zec 9:14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
Zec 9:15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.
Zec 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.
That account certainly addresses His Second Advent and records details of the activities that ensue … the deliverance of Israel His people from their oppressors of the end-time. It is a real-time account of His and their activities in this necessary precursor to the establishment of His Kingdom in Zion.
The 10th verse surely refers to the time of the kingdom’s establishment from sea to sea: “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day” describes not the personal actions of the Father Himself among them, but the actions of His Son acting on His behalf.
The Prophet Ezekiel confirms this truth: And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. Ezekiel 34:24.
Yet it is the Father Who is here given credit for the execution of His will as in several other instances such as Isaiah 63.
Verse 4 reveals that “the Lord” will cast out Tyre. Verse 6 reveals that “I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.” Verse 8 says “I will encamp about Mine house …” and bring to a conclusion its salvation.
The author of this series of truths is God, the Father of Israel; it was given 500 years prior to Jesus' birth, and His appearance in Israel.
Do we believe that these actions are indeed carried out by our Father personally?
I do not; for verse 10 defines the active Principal in this conflict: He is termed “thy (Israel’s) King” – by which I believe He designates His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Agent of their salvation from their oppressors.
It is He Who appears to His people at this time – not the Father Himself, as it might seem to a casual reader.
In this action He utilizes NOT the carnal weapons of Israel such as the horse, the battle bow and the chariot (vs. 10).
Repudiating these conventional means, He utilizes the people themselves, bending Judah as a bow, filling the bow with Ephraim with power as with arrows … raising up Zion’s sons, making them as the sword of a mighty man. He also uses the weapon of His own mouth (breath, or pneuma in Greek).
How does He do this? How can we understand His accomplishment of all this activity utilizing only His now repentant people of Israel, now completely receptive of His blessing and guidance?
We cannot claim that we understand exactly how it is to be done. But the people seem to move against their enemies round about with immense power, and subject to His blessing in the battle. And it is concluded that “the Lord their God shall save them in that day” (vs. 16).
Yet, it is the personal intervention of the Lord God’s personal Representative, the Lord Jesus Christ Who shall have done this.
The text of the prophecy equates “thy King” with “the Lord their God” in clear terms.
It is a certain indication that the Lord Jesus has at that time inherited the title "Lord God," in the truest sense, although an entirely separate Being from His Father, but at the same time, entirely and inclusively One with Him in every sense.
That truth did not always exist, for in no way could Jesus have been truthfully called, "the Lord their God" during the days of His flesh. He had not yet attained to that exalted position.
Yet, in a premonitionary statement, Thomas the Apostle, upon seeing the nail prints in His hands after His resurrection, did address Him as “My Lord and my God.” John 20:28.
But by his resurrection from the dead, substantiating divine approval of His life of service, He has inherited that title, becoming ONE with His Father in nature and purpose - and in immortality.
So, of course, they are not the same Being: the answer to this dilemma is that the King is the Personal Emissary of the Lord God. He is Yahweh Tzvaoth – the Lord of Hosts – which is one of the proper titles for the returned Lord Jesus Christ, appearing with immense power and brilliant glory to accomplish His Father’s will among men.
But in what manifestation shall He appear? As a single man, the King of Israel – as a solitary figure? Or shall He have a great Company with Him? We believe He appears as a plural Entity – as leader of an immense band of Immortals, all of Whom are identical in nature with Him in that future day – all of Whom have His perfect mind, His perfect character, His consummate purpose, His divine nature and His righteous intention for all the earth.
He is called “the Lord of HOSTS” with good reason, as He is accompanied by a great multitude of beings, whom we believe are none other than the Redeemed of all ages, His then immortalized Saints.
Our understanding is that His Second Advent immediately follows The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, recorded in Revelation 19:7 - Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife hath made Herself ready. 8 And to Her was granted that She should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Only two verses later we read of the beginning careers of the multitude of individuals who make up that Bride: and Her designated course of duty which follows: Revelation 19:11 - And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Rev 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
In this scene, the armies of the heavenlies are the immortalized Saints who now join with Him in his conquest of all His enemies of the earth. Those armies of this verse 14 are surely equated with His Wife of verses 7 and 8; both entities are described as clothed in the same immaculate garments: fine linen, clean and white – the reward of faithful service, the designated symbol of the righteousness of Saints.
From this point in the narrative, every property of the LORD Jesus Himself is attributable to His now immortal Saints; they are “one with Him” in every sense of those words.
Rev 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Rev 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
His weapon is thus defined: the “sword” of His mouth – that is, His Word, or spoken commands.
Revelation 17: 14 makes direct reference of those accompanying Him in this affair: These (the Beast powers) shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
Such a statement cannot be made of angels, but must designate those upon whom Salvation has recently been bestowed – those who in their mortal lives have shown themselves to be called, and chosen, and faithful by their diligent and unwavering service and devotion to Him during their mortal probationary lives.
Believers have devised a term to describe this great multitude of the Redeemed, which is, the multitudinous Christ; although not a scriptural term it is surely an expression which is widely supported by scripture.
In our thinking, these who are with him are those whose voices are heard in Revelation 19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Who can these be but the newly immortalized Saints who now stand ready with immense power, to do His bidding for all eternity? - and to rule with the same omnipotence as that which is fully expressed in His own Person?
Their new position of trust and authority has resulted from their past faithful service, their devotion to the exaltation of His name, their determined dedication to fulfill His will in their mortal lives during their probationary lives of service to Him.
Adding credence to this thought is the significant testimony of Psalm 149:4 - For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 5 Let the Saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; 7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
A verifiable expression of this specific, decisive activity against one of their enemies round about, Edom, is clearly expressed in Obadiah 1: 21 – And Saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.
Who can these “Saviours” be but those charged with the execution of vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people … to execute upon them the judgment written?
Clearly, it is the honour of all His Saints to do this. We cannot visualize any clear-cut or final victory over the Edomites apart from participation by Christ and the Saints, just as Obadiah says.
These be but a few of the reasons why we believe that the redeemed Saints do indeed accompany the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns to conquer and to pacify the earth and its people, and to bring salvation and redemption to His people. <HEL L1> ~2650 words. Position Paper # 32, published February 2, 2016